Andy talked to Vanessa Glossop, Anytime Booking, and Mark Simpson, Boostly, about how to surface your unique selling proposition (USPs) and let your excellence shine, avoid having to micro-manage guests and transform tough guests into raving fans!
Competitive advantage is the edge that pushes you ahead of the competition, while establishing how your unique selling points (USPs) make you and your accommodation different. And we’re here to help you achieve that.
As part of our latest webinar, Do Less, Talk More: How to achieve competitive advantage and more bookings in 2023, we gathered two property management and marketing experts to address competitive advantage and how to surface your unique selling points. Naturally, the conversation segued to cover communicating with your guests and transforming the grumpiest of visitors into raving fans.
Our co-founder and CEO, Andy, talked to:
Table of Contents
- What is competitive advantage
- How USPs are relevant to today’s marketplace challenges
- Achieving competitive advantage
- Identifying your USPs
- How to avoid having to micro-manage your guests
What is competitive advantage
Competitive advantage boils down to how you do hospitality. It’s about creating memorable experiences for your guests – the more you can give them, the better their experience with you.
Vanessa pointed out a business’ competitive advantage is their unique selling points (USPs, for short). She framed it as finding out what you do really well as a short term rental (STR) owner and communicating these USPs to the world in the form of guest experiences.
“The objective in mind is to give the guest experience that lightest, easiest approach to interacting with your business.” – Vanessa
Our panellists were in agreement that if you can tap into your USPs, you will attract more guests who in turn, become the ultimate marketers for your property.
Not only is it about uncovering your USPs; it’s also about ensuring your technology, your tools and your staff all support the deliverance of your USPs to potential and current guests.
How USPs are relevant to today’s marketplace challenges
Questions were floated during our panel discussion whether the industry is robust enough and there is adequate guest demand so holiday park owners can cool their jets on their USP messaging.
Or, is it still relevant to caravan park managers to address what makes them different and sets them apart?
The challenge will be to stabilise what we have, whether it’s the industry as a whole or independent businesses, but still stand out.” – Vanessa
Vanessa noted there are a lot of opportunities but also challenges in speaking to multiple types of guests with the increased overlap of travel for work and leisure. It’s important to cater to ever-changing guest motivations for going on holiday and for staying in a caravan park or glampsite.
Mark was also quick to add that there always seems to be challenges. Keeping that in mind and focusing on what’s in front of you, will help hosts and owners everywhere to preserve their sanity amidst a growing industry.
There are challenges, but my advice is focus on what you can control, and block out the nonsense.” – Mark
He added that more than ever, people are aware of short term rentals. Your guest avatar is just as relevant and important now as it was back in 2019 and you can use it to your advantage.
Achieving competitive advantage
So, how do you achieve competitive advantage, while uncovering your USPs? Read on to find out what advice our panellists had for our webinar attendees.
Capitalise on warm feelings and remember brand promises
Vanessa hit this one home by encouraging webinar attendees to get back to the basics when it comes to delivering an amazing guest experience. No matter the offer you provide to your guests, part of ensuring a brilliant guest experience is following through with any brand promise you lead with when initially creating your brand.
Just make sure you deliver on that brand promise. You can’t say you’re nearest to the beach and then your guests show up and there’s no view because there’s another property blocking it. You’ve got to really deliver on your promises.” – Vanessa
She also referenced getting in touch with prior guests who have stayed with you and reminding them of what they enjoyed throughout their stay. This helps stir up those warm and fuzzy feelings while harbouring guest loyalty.
Appeal to your ideal guest
As the old adage goes, “If you appeal to all, you appeal to no one”. This certainly applies to your guest demographic, too. Appealing to a core focus allows you to speak directly to your ideal guest and capitalise on tools for doing so.
Part of appealing to your ideal guest, also connects strongly back to focusing on what you can control. You can easily lose sight of what is within your grasp if you try to collectively appeal to all guest types.
Define what you uniquely deliver to your guests
Andy noted how clearly defining what you have on offer, distinguishing yourself from everybody else, and remaining positive above all, is crucial.
Capitalising on your guests’ strong desire to travel despite a difficult year, provides an opportunity to remain optimistic and deliver value to your guests.
Cost of living crisis + desire to travel = finding a place that I know I am going to get really good value from. Value does not have to be about price, it’s about getting the best possible stay and providing your guests a nice amount of value” – Andy
Identifying your USPs
Identifying your USPs in addition to creating value and memories is at the heart of transforming your guests into fans of your property. It’s about clearly defining what you stand for, understanding your property’s story hook and reconnecting with your ‘why’ that keeps guests coming back for more.
We’ve included a few suggestions below from our webinar on charting your own voyage to uncovering your unique selling points.
Evoke an emotional attachment
For Vanessa, identifying your USPs is a combination of things. Most importantly, it’s about evoking an immediate emotional attachment.
Speaking honestly on what you have on offer and the experience your guests can achieve with you, is really where you start to build that community and uniqueness your guests will undoubtedly be looking for.” – Vanessa
Travel delivers a marriage of people’s values alongside a sense of community that many guests cling to when exploring a specific locale. Go beyond what you’re offering, and instead focus on creating an experience that delivers guests the sense of community they seek.
Uncover your ideal guest
Even before evoking an emotional attachment, Mark advised of 3 key parts to revealing who is coming to your property, to help uncover your USPs and position them to work for you.
Identify who is coming to your area
For starters, find out who is coming to your geographical area. Strike up conversations with your local destination marketing organisations or tourism offices for even more juicy insight. From there, look at your property and how you’re able to provide those appealing elements specific to your ideal guest.
Uncover who your ideal customer is and appeal to them by basing your property around this avatar.” – Mark
For instance, if your property is geared towards health care professionals, highlight the fact you have a direct route to the hospital, or you offer black out blinds. This makes for a nice touch for hospital workers staying at your property, like nurses who work long hours and require ample shut eye.
Identify where they spend their time
Once you know who this individual is, find out where they spend their time and make relevant connections that place you in their eyesight.
For example, your healthcare professionals might spend a lot of their time following Facebook groups for fellow nurses, or peruse hospital-themed magazines.
Identify how to grab their attention
Finally, you need to figure out what will attract your ideal guest by speaking directly to this person. What can you do to grab their attention?
From there, you can thread this information throughout your property listing, as well as share this messaging via your social media channels and your website.
Market to different group types and seasons
One webinar attendee prompted an intriguing discussion surrounding talking to different audiences and groups when your property changes with the seasons. For example, a property where guests ski in the winter and hike in the summer.
Given the attendee was likely currently booked up for the ski season, Mark had some key guidance to begin marketing to their summer crowd.
Begin uploading summer pictures to your website and social media come March and April, and start talking then about your summer time bookings and activities for guests.” – Mark
He also advised to focus on the 80:20 rule when it comes to marketing to your guests. By identifying the core 20% of clients that bring in 80% of your revenue, this allows you to hone in on a core segment of your audience.
Connect with the retiree demographic
Another attendee question asked during the webinar included, “What do you do for the not-so digital savvy customers?”
While they might not be as tech forward, retired individuals are a vastly untapped source of potential guests. You can still scoop up these potential guests by posting personalised newsletters and Christmas cards in the mail.
Consider mailing them your property’s leaflets, asking them to share these promotional pieces wherever they spend their time. It’s never too late to tap into older forms of marketing that don’t involve Tik Tok! As Mark put it, sometimes it’s okay to go old school.
Old school is the new school” – Mark
As part of Touch Stay’s webinar, attendees also heard how they can best avoid micromanaging guests. Review the following practices to get inspired.
Leverage your existing tools & technologies
For potential guests that are tech-savvy, taking advantage of tools and technologies in your line up and branding yourself properly, can help you to achieve more direct bookings.
Establish your direct booking website
Publishing messaging and images above the fold of your website that appeal to specific guest avatars, can really generate new business. A website also serves as a fantastic opportunity to flag potential areas of concern.
I think a lot of people have thought “why bother with a website, if I can’t compete”. But in this instance, there are so many more tools and places people search.” – Andy
Mark mentioned how Airbnb doesn’t currently have a live chat, paving the way for you to answer guests’ inquiries via your website! Branding yourself and your website correctly (including such precious tools like chat boxes!) can drive potential guests back to your direct booking site.
Get found via direct bookings
You’ve since established your direct booking site – so how do you get found? One of our webinar attendees asked a stellar question inquiring how owners can market to guests who prefer to book direct.
Mark’s key piece of advice? Enact the Waffle House tactic!
Whenever a Walmart opened, a Waffle House would open nearby. They knew when a Walmart opened in a small town, people would flock to it, and a Waffle House would scoop up all of the foot traffic. In the same vein, you need to brand your business accordingly, to take someone from Airbnb to your direct booking site.” – Mark
Mark followed this up by directing the webinar attendee to include her logo in one of her first 6 photos on her Airbnb property listing. In doing so, this quickly and efficiently helps convey to potential guests that it’s her business, allowing them to connect the dots and find her via a quick Google search.
One additional yet brilliantly simple hack from Mark? Changing your profile picture on your Airbnb listing to your property’s logo. This ensures potential guests know you’re a proper host, not simply a hobby host, and will recognise your brand name when they Google you.
As Vanessa pointed out, different people search in different ways, including herself, so it’s important to also take Google’s search algorithm with a grain of salt!
I tend to Google search a property, then scroll down past the first or second Google search results which display the OTAs, as I prefer to book directly with holiday park owners.” – Vanessa
Explain why book direct benefits your guests
When it comes to your direct booking site, you need to explain to your guests why book direct proves more beneficial to them than booking via an online travel agency. It’s about educating your guests so they know which is better for them and in turn, for your business.
It’s more than just price saving. What is the reason why they should stay with you over anyone else? What is different about staying with you? It’s far beyond money but an experience.” – Andy
This hits home especially with Gen Z holiday goers. Gen Z are looking for reasons beyond pricing to stay with you, as they seek deeper meaning to attach to their trips. Recognising this age group places importance on aspects like experiential and ethical travel, can help elevate your direct booking messaging and take your guests’ stay to the next level.
Automate, but stay creative
Vanessa told our webinar attendees that a property management system is at the heart of removing the micro management of guests. It creates value across all stages of the booking system with pre and post-sale communications. For example, tools like dynamic pricing, can help automate your pricing depending upon the season.
Dynamic pricing helps you get the best price for the season while offering the most beneficial rate.” – Andy
Conversely, there is danger when implementing automation as it has the potential to kill creativity.
Vanessa urged attendees to update any templates they might use and adopt them to their own language and brand style, and to revisit their content to ensure messaging is current and up-to-date.
It’s about ensuring the automation is there to alleviate the admin but not strip out humanity” – Vanessa
Drive guest communications with a Touch Stay digital guidebook
Entirely customisable to please even the toughest of guests, a Touch Stay digital guest welcome book helps to reduce guest questions, drive guests to specific nuggets of information using deep links, while returning more time to you to run your business. Try our 14 day free trial today to see if a Touch Stay digital guidebook is right for you!